Empire Strikes back was a 1980 sci-fi movie which was a big hit! In the movie, an existing strong entity pulls up its socks, reorganizes and strikes back at the conquerors! We have a history of Patriarchal society where male domination has been the norm. “Me Too” has already threatened this dominance and maybe the women are becoming conquerors.
In Mahabharata, there is the classic episode of Draupadi Vastraharan, disrobing of Draupadi by Kauravas after Yudhishthir lost the game of dice, in which he had staked Draupadi! It’s a complex story, many things that were done and not done, said or remained unsaid, were justified by traditions, dharma and beliefs of those times. To me, all these stories and situations are Metaphors which imply a subtle meaning which is explained as a story. The worst of the incident is that Karna called Draupadi a whore. In those times, a man could have more than one wife but a woman could not have more than one husband. Has this changed in 2018? Draupadi was the epitome of a strong woman. While she was being dragged to the hall, Karna told Vikarna, the only person opposing this act, that the whore has no rights, she can be dragged in the hall even if she is naked! That is what the Dharma of those days said. When she was finally dragged by Dushasana, she was going for a bath and had a skimpy cloth around her body. Her period had started and the cloth was slightly smeared with blood. She resisted but did not cry. Krishna provided her with the supply of unlimited saris; this is explained as a miracle. Do you understand what I am trying to say? It took a miracle to save a strong woman like Draupadi! Why am I going into so many details? The subject of Me Too is not going away from my mind. I am very much agitated hence I am writing one more blog on the same subject within the last 4/5 days!
Many males and a few females have said nasty things about the affected women from “Me Too”. Why did they not slap the male? Why were they afraid? Does this mean that the ladies wanted to offer their bodies? Come on friends, in this world how many strong persons are there? Both male and female? A very small percentage has strong character. We have prostitutes and slaves for thousands of years. Slaves were both male and female. Nobody loves to live as a slave. But their weakness pushes them into this life. Our societies psyche has become such that males are always allowed to dominate females. I agree that if Draupadi were meek then Mahabharata would not have happened! She is the one who first resisted Kauravas, verbally and morally. Krishna did the rest! On the other side in the Nirbhaya case, even though the lady wanted to fight back, her boyfriend was with her; but males involved were so brutal and inhuman that they did what they did right in the middle of our capital city Delhi! That is the male Empire I am talking about! This empire theory is so much ingrained in us that we assume that it is the right of Males to do what they want, the way they want!
A commentator, Vinita Nangia said in her article on the subject, “Me Too” is breakpoint that women badly needed! To me, Point of Inflexion is a term which also fits perfectly. The point of inflexion or the Ecological threshold is the point at which a relatively small change or disturbance in external conditions, causes a rapid change in an ecosystem. Crossing an ecological threshold often leads to a rapid change of ecosystem equilibrium. The small change or disturbance is that, a few ladies have started a movement of coming out openly to tell the world, how they were asked for sexual favours against the jobs they were trying to perform. This has started in a small way but is expected to create a typhoon over a period as many women are expected to openly talk about their difficulties. Now that the “Me Too” movement has started in a small way and it will grow in slowly and there will be no going back!
My main point of discussion is, will the “Male Empire strike back”? If so, how will they do it? After trying to do what they want, where they want and when they want, has been going on from Draupadi’s time! Men are not going to give up so easily, their “benefits”. Will there be a thought process not to employ women, if the job description requires them to travel with males? This cyclone or this war is going to be messy, to say the least. In this war, some innocents will get hit on both sides. It may hit both guilty and not guilty! Don’t forget that in every new incident that comes in open, there are at least two families that are also going to get hurt badly! In management term or real battle terms, it has got a fancy name, Collateral Damage!
My point is that there have been flirtations, there have been illicit affairs. These must be differentiated from predatory acts. In the workplace, men’s libido comes in the way of right and just things. How will “Me Too” help? Will it make men understand that when a woman says no, it means NO! Women also have to be careful that their actions are going to hurt someone, it can ruin somebody’s career, it can ruin their family life! Ladies should clearly differentiate between breakup of illicit affair and predatory attack. Converting breakup in affair into a “Me Too” event will give set back to this revolution! This is not a battle but it is a protest, an uprising! I am not sure if current laws are good enough to make discretion between flirtations/illicit affairs and predatory attack!
Why am I asking the rhetorical question, Will Empire Strike Back? It is simply because as per my understanding, this phenomenon is city based; I shudder to think of what is still happening in smaller places and villages. If parents can kill their daughters for family honour, who is going to bother about predatory pouching? In small towns and villages, we hear of ladies being stripped and paraded in villages, on some minor issues. So, if we are under an impression that the Empire will be weakened, then we are under a great misconception. In future too, the boys and girls will keep on migrating to cities from villages and towns! There will be non-stop supply “cultured” males and girls who “expect” predatory behaviour from men, because that is what they have seen all their lives! These poor girls are then easy prey to city-bred chauvinist males! What you want is free sex; sophistication will not be a pre-condition! It has been our tradition right from Draupadi’s times, is it not!
Mythology has been the base of our traditions which we follow as if its a gospel. When Arjuna “won” Draupadi in Swayamwara, all five brothers came home with Draupadi. Kunti thought that they have come back with the alms that they used to collect everyday. She said, “Share the alms, all five of you!” Kunti’s words became the God’s truth and lo, the brothers decided to “share” Draupadi! After all she was just a thing, just an item, she was a woman! Even Kunti, a woman, also did not feel that she should take her words back! How can you go against your mothers words? After all Kunti had been the harbinger of non traditional things in the family! She had given birth to Karna before marriage!
I fear that unless “Me Too” spreads to small places and villages, the situation is not going to change as much as we think it will! After all, no woman openly talks about forced sex (which may not amount to rape), their periods and such things. City-bred, confident girls with family support will do it! Empire need not strike back, it has sown the seeds of suppressing women, thousands of years back. Now the “real fruits” have become low hanging fruits for them. They will simply become discreet and will learn techniques to know which girl is going to keep her mouth shut, for ever!